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Litvine, M.


LITVINE, M. (pseudonym of Mordkhe Boyarin ; 1906–1993) Yiddish essayist and translator. Born in Shavl (Siauliai), Lithuania, Litvine spent his early childhood in nearby Kovno (Kaunas). Following the expulsion of Jews from the border region, during World War i he lived in Slaviansk, where he attended a Russian secondary school. Modern literature, which he read in Russian and German as well as in Hebrew and Yiddish translation, was the focus of his interests. After returning to Kovno in 1921 he attended the local Jewish-Russian secondary school, after which he studied economics, philosophy, and art history at the university in Berlin, where he imbibed the city's rich cosmopolitan cultural life. He was also attracted to the hiking and camping activities of the German "Wandervogel" youth movement. In 1933 he returned home for compulsory service in the Lithuanian army, returning to Berlin in 1934. His anti-Nazi activities brought about his arrest and sentencing to 15 years' imprisonment (1935), but he was released in 1938 after the intervention of Lithuanian officials. After a short stay in Kovno he left for Paris in 1939 with a student visa. After the German invasion, he departed for the "Free Zone" to study at the University of Montpellier. In June 1942 he went into hiding in a small village and eventually joined a group of the French Resistance. After the war he settled in Paris. Because of his generous personality, fascinating lectures, and writings, he became over the decades one of the most esteemed and beloved intellectual figures of the Yiddish cultural scene in Paris and other Jewish centers. In 1944–58, he was on the staff of the Communist daily Naye Presse, writing mostly literary and theater criticism. In 1953–56 he edited the literary quarterly Parizer Tsaytshrift, where some of his translations and essays appeared. Beginning in the 1960s Litvine dedicated himself almost completely to literature, harmoniously combining extensive analysis of contemporary Yiddish poets with intense research about and practice of poetic translation. His brilliant analytical and synthetic intelligence, his vast erudition in various fields of literary aesthetics, as well as his literary talent and mastery of the Yiddish language are displayed in the outstanding quality of his published works. His most important essays, about I. *Manger, Ch. *Grade, A. *Sutzkever, and other major Yiddish poets, appeared in Di Goldene Keyt and other Yiddish publications. His most exceptional contribution to Yiddish literature is his Frantseyzishe Poezye: Ibersetsungen un Komentarn ("French Poetry: Translations and Comments," 2 vols., 1968, 1986). A collection of his translations from French, Russian, and German poetry, Funder Velt-Poezye ("Poetry from the World," 2003), appeared posthumously.


lnyl, 5 (1963), 97; B. Kagan, Leksikon (1986), 331–2; N. Gruss, in: Di Goldene Keyt, 65 (1981), 159–71; A. Shulman, in: Yidishe Kultur (May–June 1986), 44–7; V. Solomon, in: Di Goldene Keyt, 122 (1987), 73–83.

[Marc Miller]

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